Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Happy Comes From All Around

Where did my happy happen this week?

Was it at Elkin park, where a little girl was equally thrilled with a princess dress and what might be termed a little boy's toy dinosaur that transformed into a truck?

Was it when I finally packed the last piece of chicken into a freezer bag and could acknowledge the accomplishment of moving my old layers from the backyard toward the pot?

Was it the dog that crunched my finger last week, coming up to jump on my leg just four short days after arriving for what we hope will be a step in rehabilitation?

All of the above.

Before acknowledging happy, however, I have to admit to one moment of stabbing pain at the much anticipated birthday party. For two weeks the date had haunted me -- the last time I saw my son, Ethan, alive -- at his niece's fourth birthday party was one year behind us when this year's party rolled around. I looked at my parents and had the mental thought that they were missing something, like something had been forgotten, and I realized it was my son who had rode with them for the last year of his life to family events, having lost his license and car (and very nearly his life) in a drugged driving crash. I took a few deep breaths, focused on what I do have, and went on.

I tried to avoid giving the date too much power, but after being blindsided by his absence a time or two in the past, I think I was wise to have done my worrying and mental preparation ahead of time. It was another family gathering and he wasn't there. I ate an extra hot dog, stripped to just ketchup, thinking of him.

So besides celebrating the dichotomy of my granddaughter's personality and my debatable dog whispering skills, where else did I find joy this week?

4. PiYo. After a four-day break that didn't really want to end, I forced myself back into my daily PiYo routine. Yes, it hurt, but I was glad to quickly feel the familiarity with the routine returning. I still hate that I cannot get to a live class, but I'm enjoying a fitness routine that fits in my small open space.

5. Realizing that I had survived the party, without a breakdown, without making my E1 feel like the ghost of her Uncle Ethan had made me sad. It wasn't hard beyond the moment, and I know that each one that comes will loom as a marker of the time we've been apart, then pass a bit easier than I expected. Only eight months into my grief journey, I recognize this as how my life will be. The dread of missing him at a time he should have been there, then the date passing without falling apart (I hope) and life going on.

6. Being the first adult to hit the pool at a birthday party and having fun with my little people and a middle school boy who broke my heart when he put on his glasses, because I saw my son in the misfit youngster. Yes, the water was cold and chlorinated, while my little pool is salt, but I was happy to have the energy to play with the children and race them to the restroom instead of huddling in a lounge chair.

7. Zumba class, even if it is just working out with a bunch of strangers. I did exchange a few words with one, who turned out to be my daughter's mail carrier. Plus I'm learning the routines and knowing where to step next always makes it more fun.

8. Getting back in my pool after chilly nights and lots of rain. The girls and I had a great time (and another workout).

Look for your happy. Whatever is going wrong, or right, don't miss the good times. You may need the memory for another day. I know sometimes I do.


  1. It was so great to read YOUR blog on finding joy this week. I just posted MY blog on the same subject but I have to admit that yours is much more joyful. I'm so inspired. I will have to do a better job finding my Happy next week. Cheers to you, Angela. Wishing you more joy.

  2. Glad to see you are finding your "happy" one day at a time. You are amazingly strong and resilient, a great role model for those little girls and everyone else suffering with their grief.